Friday, 26 October 2012

Some notes on Lords reform

The numerous inquiries, reports, white papers and parliamentary votes on Lords reform since the House of Lords Act 1999 (listed here) have produced a consensus on quite a number of points:

British citizenship - Updated post

This post seeks to give an overview of the concept of citizenship in UK law.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Blasphemy in the civil law

England used to have a blasphemy law - or, more precisely, it used to recognise the twin offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel.  Yet it is rarely remembered that the purpose of the blasphemy law was as much political as religious.  It was aimed against perceived subversion of the law, society and the state rather than at preventing individuals from committing sin in the eyes of God.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The origins of the idea of the mixed constitution

In a previous post, I examined the recurring theme of the mixed and balanced constitution in English constitutional writings.  In this post, I want to look at some of the ancient sources of this theme.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The Lords' Tale

This is a rather odd documentary on the hereditary peers in the House of Lords made by the Canadian filmmaker Molly Dineen.  The hereditaries were removed from the House in 1999, with the exception of a rump of 92 who remained under a deal struck between the Conservative Lords leader Lord Cranborne and the Labour Government (which opposed the making of the film).

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Religion and the law (again)

"All that can be contended in favour of this Bill is, that the present is the age of liberal principles, and that this Bill suits the liberal principles of the age.... Whilst I fully admit the respectability and propriety of conduct of a large portion of the Jewish nation, I cannot, as a member of a Christian assembly, advise the Christian King of a Christian country to pass such a Bill. The noble and learned Lord has said, that the Christianity which is the law of the land, is merely the Christianity of the Church of England. I differ from the noble Lord, and think that the law of England derives its code of morality from the Christian dispensation generally, and regard that dispensation generally as part of that law."

Bishops in the Lords

At present, 26 serving bishops of the Church of England have seats in the House of Lords.  They are known as the "Lords Spiritual", as opposed to the "Lords Temporal" who make up the remainder of the chamber.  They are properly classed as Lords of Parliament rather than as peers (though there is some dispute about this).  They last hit the headlines a couple of months ago when they prominently opposed the Government's plans for welfare reform.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Council prayers and the Bideford case

Earlier this month, Ouseley J gave judgment in the High Court in the case of R (National Secular Society) v Bideford Town Council [2012] EWHC 175 (Admin).  As everyone must know by now, the case concerned the right of the defendant council to hold public prayers as part of its official business at meetings.